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Death penalty no deterrent despite two being awarded daily, says NGO

New Delhi, Sept 1, 2014, DHNS:
Two people are sentenced to death every day in India, but it has not proved to be a deterrent to crime, says the latest report by NGO Asian Centre for Human Rights. PTI file photo. For representation purpose
Two people are sentenced to death every day in India, but it has not proved to be a deterrent to crime, says the latest report by NGO Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Analysing government data for 12 years from 2000, the report, “India: Death Penalty Has No Deterrence”, said the key grounds for retention of death penalty is the perception that it acts as a deterrent against gruesome and diabolical crimes.

“From 2001 to 2012, the death sentences of 1,552 convicts were confirmed while the death sentences for 4,382 convicts were commuted to life imprisonment. This implies that a total of 5,934 convicts were given death sentence in the last 12 years in India, ie, about two convicts being given death sentence every working day of the judiciary,” said the report.

The report also noted that President Pranab Mukherjee has rejected 97 per cent of the mercy petitions he received since assuming office on July 25, 2012. Mukherjee has considered 23 mercy pleas involving 31 death-row convicts, out of which only one convict, Atbir, was granted mercy.

The report said despite executions of an average of 128 death-row convicts per year from 1953 to 1963 as per the 35th Report of the Law Commission, the decade-wise increase in murder cases during the same period was about 17 per cent, as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). “Obviously, executions did not act as a deterrent,” said the NGO's report.

Rather, it noted, drastic reduction in award of death penalty and executions post the Supreme Court verdict on rarest-of-rare cases drastically brought down murder cases.

As per the NCRB, the decade-wise decrease of murder cases between 1992 and 2002 was 12.43 per cent in actual terms, despite India's population growing by 21.34 per cent in the same period.

Quoting Home Ministry data, the report said though no convict under anti-terror laws from Jammu and Kashmir was executed since 1990 until the execution of Afzal Guru in 2013, the state recorded a “significant decline” in terror incidents, with 5,247 such reports in 1993 to 220 in 2012.

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